At Last, the Times Discovers Liberals

Jackie Calmes' analysis of Sen. Jay Rockefeller's opposition to Sen. Max Baucus's health care proposal has more "liberal" labels than any Times story in memory.

It's Bizarro world at the Times: After years of piling on conservative labels in story after story while hardly ever finding any "liberals,"Friday's story by Jackie Calmes, "Rockefeller Stands Up for Liberals on Health Care" is notable for doing the same thing to the liberal side.

There are more liberal labels in this story than I've ever seen in the Times -14 in all, including the headline (along with two identifications of "conservative Democrats"). Calmes not only calls Sen. Jay Rockefeller a "leading Senate liberal," she keeps on doing it throughout the story. Here are the first four paragraphs.

On Tuesday, John D. Rockefeller IV, a leading Senate liberal on health issues, said he would oppose a new Democratic proposal intended to win elusive Republican support to remake the health system. On Wednesday, he was summoned to a private meeting with President Obama.

After months in which the White House had seemed to ignore liberals as it courted centrists to join the president's signature cause, liberal lawmakers have finally attracted the administration's attention. They, in turn, have to decide how far to press their case.

All summer, the White House deferred to Senator Max Baucus, the Democrat from Montana who heads the Senate Finance Committee, as he negotiated with two moderate Democrats and three Republicans. Their failure to agree on a bipartisan bill left the administration scrambling to pass an overhaul with Democratic votes alone.

And that has emboldened liberals like the 72-year-old Mr. Rockefeller, a West Virginia Democrat. He heads the health subcommittee of Mr. Baucus's panel, and yet he was relegated to the sidelines as the so-called Gang of Six talked and talked. Senate liberals are now pushing for an overhaul fully on Democratic terms - legislation more like that in the House, where liberal Democrats dominate.